The editors at The New York Times penned a robust defense of democracy and freedom which are often threatened in the wake of terror attacks when laws are hastily adopted in a vain attempt to curb future threats.
Using the terror attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year as a basis for their argument, the editorial board sees Europe as an example -- a warning, really -- as to what can happen in the United States when legislation meant to stop terrorism only stifles individual freedoms:
“Je suis Charlie” became a rallying cry in France and across much of Europe in support of free speech and freedom of expression. It is a sad and depressing sequel to that display of solidarity that so many European nations seem willing today to curtail those same freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism.
As Europe continues denying its own citizens their right to individual freedom while accepting millions of unvetted Muslim migrants into its borders with many pillaging as they go, the United States must view this response as detrimental to what Founding Father Benjamin Franklin espoused: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
And so the editors at the NYT, maybe just this once, exposed itself for perhaps having at least one freedom-loving bone in its body:
Even in the United States, where the Constitution proclaims that freedom of speech may be curbed only if it poses a “clear and present danger,” there is a legitimate debate about what this means in the context of the sort of horrific propaganda that ISIS has spread. In Europe, limits on what can be said or done in specific categories are not uncommon, such as laws in more than a dozen European nations that ban denial of the Holocaust.
Yet laws hastily adopted in the aftermath of a terror attack have a tendency to come back in forms not intended or foreseen. More dangerously, it seems an inevitable extension of Murphy’s law that if a government is given unintended powers, those powers will be misused. The National Security Agency’s misuse of its surveillance powers, as revealed by Edward Snowden, are a notorious example, and what future leaders might do is chillingly demonstrated by Donald Trump’s suggestion that the United States should close parts of the Internet to combat terrorism — and his postscript: “Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”
On the contrary, what is foolish is the rush to exploit fear and crisis to suppress the freedoms that define democracy — the very freedoms Charlie Hebdo stood for and its attackers sought to undermine. There is no question that terrorism requires a robust response, but it cannot be used as justification for arbitrary and unfair laws.
Now, we won't hold our breaths for this to be a permanent ideological change at the notoriously liberal outlet, seeing as they don't argue this same level of freedom on behalf of gun owners after shootings, nor do they back presidential candidates that put liberty over legislation. Instead, they generally favor those who champion the various abuses of power they are railing against in this editorial.
And unlike the proverbial broken clock that is right twice a day, the NYT hasn't proven itself to be right that often.